ICT in English teaching
Searching for information on the Internet, chatting and game playing (often in English) are obvious parts of the lives of many young people in the 21st century. The opportunities that digital media provide today's language teachers with are enormous. Never before has it been so simple to bring the world into the classroom and have students use authentic materials and participate in real communicative contexts. Many teachers, however, are still afraid of bringing computers and the Internet into the classroom.
In our project group, which started in the autumn of 2006, we made a survey of how computers are used in the teaching of English in the southeast of Sweden. The results tally with other Swedish investigations. Computers are mainly used for word processing, information searching and e-mail, and to many English teachers the use of ICT is limited to these areas, in spite of all the other possibilities of practicing English are offered by computers and the Internet. They are, for instance,
- using ready-made language exercises on the Internet
- using media sites and other websites from organisations and authorities, in order to - for example - work with current events or thematic projects
- communicating with students in other countries via e-mail and chat, or participating in subject-based discussion forums
- exploit the many reference tools on the internet, such as on-line dictionaries
- create and publish student work, in the form of, for instance, digital storytelling, blogs and wikis
There are several pedagogical gains to be made with well thought through use of ICT, observed by, among others, practicing teachers which we have interviewed, such as:
- the possibility to connect the teaching of English to reality, that is to “bring the world in to the classroom”, by, for instance, using authentic texts, reading or listening to current news and creating opportunities for “real” communication
- the possibility to offer more variation in one's teaching compared to only or mainly using a textbook and workbook
- the possibility to offer a form of teaching which is more adapted to individual students' interests, learning styles and abilities
- the possibility to motivate students by having them publish their work for a potentially bigger audience than the teacher only
The focus in this project has been on simple technology (a regular computer and an internet connection), material that is free and has a concrete connection to the subject of English. We believe that this is the best way of reaching a group of teachers who have not yet started using ICT on a regular basis, and we have had a lot of positive feedback on this approach.
The work of the project has been finished but has resulted in
- a number of courses at different levels
- a large number of in-service training seminars and lectures
- several articles and student papers
- the book Lära engelska på internet (by Maria Estling Vannestål)
- Språklänkportalen, a web resource for English teachers including URL addresses to a number of different websites in different categories, reviews of many of these websites made by practicing teachers, a discussion forum etc.
Maria Estling Vannestål